Founded in 1857, Saint John’s was originally established to educate young men for the priesthood; Saint John’s Seminary was the first Catholic institution of higher education in Minnesota. From the beginning, Saint John’s educated monks for the priesthood while also welcoming diocesan seminarians and members of other religious communities.

The establishment of the Benedictine Institute of Sacred Theology in 1958 by Saint Benedict’s Monastery led to a cooperative arrangement whereby Saint John’s Seminary became the first Roman Catholic theologate to offer graduate degrees to women. From this evolved a dynamic model of education for collaborative ministry at Saint John’s. In 1979, the academic program for seminarians, known as the School of Divinity, and the graduate program in theology were merged to form the School of Theology. In 1988, the seminary formation program was brought together with the academic program to form what is now known as the School of Theology and Seminary.

Today, the school remains committed to the education and formation of monastic seminarians, religious sisters and brothers, and lay people.

Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary is one of only four Catholic theological schools in the upper Midwest. The distinctive essence of the school is shaped by the Roman Catholic and Benedictine traditions and the liturgical and ecumenical heritage of Saint John’s Abbey. Students come from all walks of life and all corners of the world.

The school’s vibrant community is enriched by the presence of Saint John’s Abbey, Saint Benedict’s Monastery, the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, The Saint John’s Bible, the Episcopal House of Prayer, and the Liturgical Press, as well as the undergraduate programs at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. It is also enriched by the school’s membership in the Minnesota Consortium of Theological Schools.

"Saint John's is special, probably the most special single institution in the American Catholic Church-a center for social action, scholarship, ecumenism, and liturgical renewal.  In the case of the last two it is fair to say that both began at Saint John's and of the last three that they continue to flourish at Saint John's even though they are in retreat in most of the rest of American Catholicism." Fr. Andrew Greeley